Posted by: Rebecca | April 1, 2012

Cody – I’m in love!

Generally speaking, I don’t like zoos. The idea of animals being held in captivity for the benefit / entertainment of humans just seems wrong. However, when the reason they’re there is to preserve the species, protect them from extinction and / or rehabilitate them, I can understand it. So the wildlife habitat on the outskirts of Port Douglas, which gives me the chance to see more koalas sounds a must. Mum’s not so keen, but dad is; so at early o’clock this morning, at the age of 35, my daddy takes me to the zoo!

When we arrive, we’re told that we have 45 minutes before the koala people will be doing a short presentation – not tricks, performances or anything horrid like that, but just talking to us about the animals; how to tell males/females apart, what they eat, why they sleep for 20 hours a day, and most importantly, the dangers which have reduced their numbers from around 1,000,000 strong in Australia to just 100,000 today.

I’m intrigued. I just adore these creatures. They do very little else other than sleep, but I’m just so taken with them! The koala specialist talking to us today is Shannon; she’s worked with koalas for ver 15 years, both in the wild (rescuing injured animals) and in captivity (rehabilitating them and educating the public on how what they can do to help protect them). Shannon then introduces Cody – he’s a beautiful (sleeping!) male, around 18 inches tall, although he’s currently curled up in a ball in the eucalyptus beside Shannon. Just as she finishes her talk, there’s a rustle from the plants and, bang on cue, Cody wakes us and turns round – he looks straight at me! Aawwwwwww! 🙂

Afterwards, we’re offered the chance to hold him – again, this is something I never thought I’d want to do (a bit like declining the introduction to Schumi really, just not my bag) but I can’t not cuddle him, he’s amazing, I just adore him. I wasn’t bothered about the photo really, I just wanted to hold him. I’d refrained from doing this in the wild on the Great Ocean Road – back there, Clive was in his own territory, and it felt wrong to disturb him. But this is Cody’s life, he’s used to it and they have strict rules on how much time he spends in the arms of soppy humans like me (only 3 out of every 30 days, and for no more than 30 minutes in any one day). So I feel ok and have absolutely no willpower to do what, perhaps, was the right thing. I can’t not do this. I have to hold him… *smitten*

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After seeing Cody, next on the list was to go and see the Wallabies and ‘Roos. On entry, we’d bought a bag of food and been told we could feed them, if we wanted to. Now at first, I suspected this could just be a hoax, and they’d never really be close enough to eat from my hand, surely? But again, it was an opportunity which, if I’d passed by, I could’ve regretted later. And this trip is all about grabbing those opportunities. So I buy a bag and off we go.

As we enter the park area, we see a Wallaby on the path right in front of us; about 2 feet tall, a warm brown colour and the most beautiful face ever! But how to I feed him? Do I throw the food on the ground in front of him so he can eat it? Do they have sharp teeth? Will he really eat from by hand? What the hell – I’ll go for the best and, if he bites me, I won’t do it again, right?! *matilda theory*

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Wally was sooooo gentle. He just munched from my hand and seemed quite hungry! But apparently, so were the birds around him, who were more forceful and less courteous. They came (in numbers), they snapped the food from my hand (with sharp beaks), and they wanted more 😦 So I threw some food over to one side, off they went, and my focus returned to Wally… so sweet! We wandered on a little further and soon found a 5-foot Kangaroo, standing in the pathway, being fed by another chap, he was huge in comparison to Wally and, according to the look on the chap’s face as Skippy feasted from his hand, he was slightly more slobbery too! I watched a while, then walked on. A few yards further up, we found another wallaby, this time with a joey in his pouch! Wow! And with no birds is sight, he was very friendly, eating the vast majority of my bag of food! Dad took some amazing photos of them (see facebook) but the whole experience is one of those – oh my god – moments; I’m feeding a wallaby… I’m holding a koala… I’m looking straight into the beady eye of a freshwater croc… *gulp* Now he’s scary.

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Very well camouflaged, the crocs were in a variety of locations. One was basking on the bank (his scaly skin blending into the shadows cast by the trees above), another was gliding slowly under the bridge on which we stood (his darker, wet body roughly the same colour as the water, so anything more than an inch underwater was completely hidden), and *splash* oh my god, where’s he going?!! It’s ok, the croc on the other bank is coming over to dry out in the sun over this side. Now he looks the quiet but feisty sort – would look fab as a pair of shoes?… I shall call him ‘Gucci’.

At this point, having taken more photos than David Bailey, and wondering if mum had got lunch ready, we decided to hop on the shuttle bus back into town and crack open a tinny.

Cheers Cody /Boxy xx

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